“It is rare to see such winning attributes in one so young, for it is not enough to have driving skill nowadays. Experience counts for a great deal, for it is that which brings the tactical cleverness and tenacity which enable one to use skill to the best advantage.”
This is how Motor Sport reported Henri Toivonen’s maiden WRC victory in the 1980 RAC Rally. The Finn was 24 years old when he romped home in his Talbot Sunbeam Lotus, more than four and a half minutes ahead of the next car, and became the youngest winner of a world championship rally. It was a record that stood for more than 27 years until Jari-Matti Latvala won in Sweden in 2008.
The 40th anniversary of that win falls next month against a backdrop of a cancelled British round of the WRC, which would usually have been taking place this autumn. And although you wouldn’t guess it from our rather idiosyncratic report (it is well worth a read for an insight into the atmosphere and concerns of period rallying, and can be found via the Archive section of our website), that victory created a real moment for the sport in Britain.